Jazz and Psychotherapy: Perspectives on the Complexity of Improvisation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Jazz and Psychotherapy

Perspectives on the Complexity of Improvisation, 1st Edition

By Simeon Alev


320 pages

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Hardback: 9780367188177
pub: 2020-05-18
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Blending the insights of musicians and psychologists from D.W. Winnicott to Gregory Bateson to Ornette Coleman, Jazz and Psychotherapy is a groundbreaking exploration of improvisation that reveals its potential to transform our experience of ourselves and the challenges we face as a species.

What we all share with the professional improvisers known as "psychotherapists" and "jazz musicians" is the reality of not knowing what those around us—or even we ourselves—are going to do next. Rather than avoiding it, however, these practitioners have learned to revere our inherent unpredictability as precisely the feature of human living that makes transformative change possible, fully incorporating it into the theories and practices that constitute their disciplines. Jazz and Psychotherapy provides a sophisticated but accessible overview of the revolutionary approaches to human development and creative expression embodied in these two seemingly disparate twentieth-century cultural traditions.

Readers interested in music, psychotherapy, social psychology and contemporary theories of complexity will find Jazz and Psychotherapy engaging and useful. Its colorful synthesis of perspectives and multidimensional scope make it an essential contribution to our understanding of improvisation in music and in life.

Table of Contents


Jazz and Psychotherapy:

Perspectives on the Complexity of Improvisation






1 — Improvisation, Culture, and Play

2 — Infancy, Childhood, and Transitional Phenomena

3 — Intersubjectivity and the Unconscious

4 — Discovering Voice

5 — Free Association and Improvisational Space

6 — Complexity, Spontaneity, and Authenticity

7 — Musical Dynamics of Early Development

8 — Symbolization and Metaphor

9 — Loops and Spirals

10 — Order and Disorder

11 — Shifting Paradigms

12 — The Self in an Evolving World




About the Author

Simeon Alev is a psychotherapist, a visual artist, a poet and a musician. He earned his doctorate at York University and completed his professional training at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto.

About the Series

SEMPRE Studies in The Psychology of Music

The theme for the series is the psychology of music, broadly defined. Topics include (i) musical development at different ages, (ii) exceptional musical development in the context of special educational needs, (iii) musical cognition and context, (iv) culture, mind and music, (v) micro to macro perspectives on the impact of music on the individual (from neurological studies through to social psychology), (vi) the development of advanced performance skills and (vii) affective perspectives on musical learning. The series presents the implications of research findings for a wide readership, including user-groups (music teachers, policy makers, parents) as well as the international academic and research communities. This expansive embrace, in terms of both subject matter and intended audience (drawing on basic and applied research from across the globe), is the distinguishing feature of the series, and it serves SEMPRE’s distinctive mission, which is to promote and ensure coherent and symbiotic links between education, music and psychology research.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Jazz
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General